Reacting to rising fees at banks, hundreds of thousands of consumers have rushed to credit unions over the past four weeks, and have joined current credit union members in depositing or shifting billions of savings to credit unions, CUNA reports.
Based on a nationwide survey of 5,000 credit unions, CUNA estimates at least 650,000 consumers have joined credit unions since Sept. 29—the day Bank of America unveiled its now-rescinded $5 monthly debit card fee.
Also during that time, CUNA estimates credit unions have added $4.5 billion in new deposits, likely due to new and current members shifting their funds.
The survey results also show that more than four of every five credit unions experiencing member growth since Sept. 29 attributed it to consumer reaction to new bank fees, or a combination of consumers’ reaction to the new bank fees plus the social media-inspired “Bank Transfer Day,” Nov. 5.
“Bank Transfer Day” urges consumers to transfer their accounts from banks to credit unions by Saturday, Nov. 5.
“These results indicate consumers are clearly making a smarter choice by moving to credit unions where, on average, they will save about $70 a year in fewer or no fees, lower rates on loans, and higher return on savings,” says CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney.
He adds that studies show people living paycheck to paycheck save even more at a credit union than the average financial institution customer because they use more credit union services.
Cheney says the growth is particularly noticeable at larger credit unions (those with $100 million or more in assets), which account for about 20% of all credit unions but 80% of all credit union members. More than 70% of these credit unions reported growth in membership and deposits since Sept. 29, CUNA reports.
Cheney notes that many credit unions—whether they’re realizing new members or not—are making a special effort to tap the surging interest in credit unions.
“They’re conducting advertising campaigns, sending ‘switch kits’ to existing members to share with family members or other prospective members, beefing up websites, extending hours and staffing for [Nov. 5], sending email blasts to members, maximizing social media campaigns, putting up banners, offering bonuses to members who bring in new members, and giving bonuses to new members as well,” Cheney says.
Cheney also notes that searches for credit unions on aSmarterChoice.org, which features a search engine to help consumers find credit unions they’re eligible to join, continues to surge, with more than 56,000 visitors in October.
“Any day is a good day for a consumer to become a credit union member,” Cheney says. “Saturday, Nov. 5, is one good day to join, and we certainly encourage consumers to make the change.”